Archive for the ‘Inspiring Shit’ Category

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

These brilliant words are courtesy Maryanne Williamson and were used in Nelson Mandela’s inaugural speech in 1994.

And they are true.

Whatever you consider the purpose of life – whether it’s to illuminate the darkness, or to balance between light and shadow, or to simply exist – we have spirits that can shine. In living our own lives, on our terms, in our own ways, we stand as examples that it can be done. We are living proof that we can be ourselves and succeed, whatever “success” may mean to each of us.

Brilliance is not reserved for a chosen few; it lives in all of us, waiting to wake up and stretch into the world through you.

I just read an amazing thing. Michelle did a Link Roundup post that led me to this:

What I say may be in a language incomprehensible, but there is a time for that, and it is right now, because this is a monster’s creed. It is for the cobbled-together, the sewn-up, the grafted-on. It is for the golden, the under-the-earth, the foreign, the travels-by-night; the filthy ship-sinking cave-dwelling bone-cracking gorgeousness that says hell no, I am not tidy. I am not easy. I am not what you suppose me to be and until you listen to my voice and look me in my eyes, I will cling fast to this life no matter how far you drive me, how deep, with how many torches and pitchforks, biting back the whole way down. I will not give you my suicide. I will not give you my surrender.

Quoted directly from The Seam of Skin and Scales. This post stopped my heart and electrified my spirit. It aligns itself perfectly with Catherynne Valente’s Monstrous Manifesto, for all that it was written more than three years prior.

I think there’s an incredible power in accepting who you are, with your thorns and scars, with your vulnerable underbelly and soft eyes. As soon as you accept who and what you are, as you are now and not in some ideal nebulous future, you can exult in your strengths and learn compassion for your weaknesses. As you would with your most beloved person, you can begin to treasure the faults and quirks that make you unique, rather than shunning them as obstacles in your impossible path to perfection.

And there is power in not being perfect – in not only accepting that, but celebrating it. There is power in being a monster and shouting it to the world, unafraid, unashamed, exuberantly imperfect (to steal an apt NaNoWriMo phrase). Reclaiming your identity – all of it, not just the pretty parts – removes the guilt, removes the unrealistic expectations, removes the pressure to be what you’re not. Things aren’t suddenly effortless, but they sure as hell get easier when you’re not fighting yourself along with all the rest of the world.

As for me? I’m quite happy to be a monster, crooked fang and briar-hair and all.

So, a while back, I talked about being me instead of being perfect. I had made the internal decision some time before writing about it publicly, but what I said then still stands well:

It took me most of my life to realize that, if I wanted to be truly happy, I needed to stop trying to be some theoretical ideal and start being me.

I had to acknowledge that who and what I am, with all my quirks and flaws, is not a bad person to be. Instead of going against my own grain, I could strive to be the best me I could be. I had to realize that I’m not responsible for other people’s expectations and perceptions; I’m only responsible for my own actions, words, path, and happiness.

Acknowledging my imperfection, letting go of unrealistic expectation, and looking within to see where I wanted to go – not should go, but wanted to go – have made even the hard things possible.

I let myself believe that it’s not just okay to be me, but that I have a right to it, and I can step up to defend my right to be me, while letting myself be nebulous and transitory, mid-evolution between birth and death.

And the other day, much to my delighted surprised, I found out that I’m not the only one refusing the expectation and pressure of perfection. A lady named BrenĂ© Brown, who has a really pretty website, decided to start a week-long Perfection Protest. Complete with photos and signs.

And that’s pretty damn awesome.

I don’t have a photo of myself and a sign to post – at least, not right now – but I want to add my voice to the outcry that says we are enough. That claims who we are is unique and authentic and awesome. That demands no more outlandish expectations of an ideal that cannot exist in a dynamic, ever-evolving universe.

Because you know what? Imperfection is way more fun.

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across one of the most amazing videos/songs/poems/thingies that I’ve ever found. It’s called How To Be Alone, by filmmaker Andrea Dorfman and poet/singer/songwriter Tanya Davis.

This is one of the most inspiring things I’ve ever seen, and reminds me of all the things I have always loved about being alone.

Written by the indomitable Catherynne M. Valente for all the SJ Tucker-led Strowlers out there. Original post here, reposted because it’s beautiful and brilliant and right-on (and because she said we could share it).

If you are a monster, stand up.
If you are a monster, a trickster, a fiend,
If you’ve built a steam-powered wishing machine,
If you have a secret, a dark past, a scheme,
If you kidnap maidens or dabble in dreams,
Come stand by me.

If you have been broken, stand up.
If you have been broken, abandoned, alone,
If you have been starving, a creature of bone,
If you live in a tower, a dungeon, a throne,
If you weep for wanting, to be held, to be known,
Come stand by me.

If you are a savage, stand up.
If you are a witch, a dark queen, a black knight,
If you are a mummer, a pixie, a sprite,
If you are a pirate, a tomcat, a wright,
If you swear by the moon and you fight the hard fight,
Come stand by me.

If you are a devil, stand up.
If you are a villain, a madman, a beast,
If you are a strowler, a prowler, a priest,
If you are a dragon, come sit at our feast,
For we all have stripes, and we all have horns,
We all have scales, tails, manes, claws and thorns,
And here in the dark is where new worlds are born.
Come stand by me.

We start each martial arts class by saying shikin haramitsu daikomyo. My favorite translation of that is in every encounter lies the opportunity for enlightenment. There is a potential revelation in every moment, in every interaction, in every breath you take.

This March, I had the pleasure of attending the 2010 IBDA Tai Kai, a forty-person, three-day, intensive training camp for those teaching and studying Bujinkan ninjutsu, hosted by Shihan Van Donk in San Francisco. I hoped for the Tai Kai to hold a little bit of enlightenment for me, but I kept myself reasonable and didn’t let my wistful thinking get too far off the ground. However, as it turns out, it was exactly as inspiring and fueling as I had wanted it to be – far exceeding my realistic expectations.

One of the many lessons I took away from the Tai Kai was the concept of being at zero. Many of our instructors discussed this, but one approach in particular stood out to me.

A gentleman named Jim King asked us what defines a warrior. In my head, I answered control – control of oneself, control of the situation, control of others to prevent escalation and damage. His answer was similar in some ways and very different in others.

His understanding of a warrior is that of balance; only unbalanced people will start a fight (excluding soldiers executing orders). A warrior is an active participant in everything; a warrior chooses to act, to bring the attention and aggression upon himself, and in doing so, he protects those around him. Everything is a deliberate, conscious choice; a warrior takes responsibility for what he does and for what happens as a result.

In order to remain at zero, a warrior does not invest himself into the fight, or the technique, or the outcome; he acts and takes opportunities where they arise, as they arise, and abandons them the moment they cease to be useful. It is intuitive, immediate, flowing; there is no tension, no intention, no emotional attachment. Ultimately, this balance stems from love, compassion, and peace – not hatred, fear, or anger.

One who is balanced is never forced; instead, he only accepts an invitation to become involved as necessary. Being balanced is an inner quality, not an outward characteristic born of great skill or competency. A warrior chooses every single thing he does deliberately and consciously.

It hit home, solidly, intensely. I am still musing over the concept and how to further integrate it into all areas of my life, not just physical training. And it’s important enough to be the first martial arts concept I blog about.

How do you balance yourself and stay at zero?

A wintry sunrise.

Once upon a time, autumn came, and all the trees turned to dying colors. Rain fell; the skies faded to marbled grey. The leaves fell; the trees were naked with only their shadows for cloaks. The ground drowned as the sunlight waned, and the frost came to drape everything in shining blankness. All the color, the movement, the life had slipped away to hibernate until the warmth could return.

Happens every year. And every year, my heart slides down into dormancy, eyes heavy-lidded with weary darkness.

And every year, after the longest night right before Christmas, I say hello to the sun and welcome it home.

And every year, it isn’t until early February or thereabouts that I manage to rekindle the fire in my own spirit.

Doing anything of worth requires fire. Passion. Some form of love, some form of desire, some driving force that animates and fuels you. Even if your motivation is only survival, it is still your passion for life that keeps your heart beating and your hands working. If you didn’t care about life, you wouldn’t bother prolonging and improving it.

If you didn’t care about anything, you’d do nothing. It’s called apathy.

Passion enflames; passion propels. Writers write because they’re passionate about their stories and their characters. Artists paint or draw or sculpt because they’re passionate; musicians create and play music; athletes move their bodies; craftsmen create; everyone breathes. Nothing worth doing lacks passion from the doer.

When the sunlight is brief and the outside world is cold and bleak, it’s easy to lose sight of passion, of our reasons for doing things, of the source of our fuel. It’s cyclical, and not necessarily in such a large arc as the wheel of the year. It can happen in a month, or a week, or a day, or a lifetime.

But losing passion is only one part of the cycle. Shove through it and reach the next stage to recover yourself and reignite your heart. However many times you do it, it’s always necessary, and always worth the effort.

How do you keep the passion flowing in your life?

Image Credit: Crestock Creative Photos.

You. Yes, you. No, not the spectre behind you. You.

You’re important.

I’ve been taking these first few weeks of the new year to let go of the old and breathe the new. I’m finding out I’ve let go of a few too many things, like my beloved sources of inspiration, and now I get to reconnect.

I’ve been reading things – sites, blogs, stories, journals. Trying to remember what got me stirred up. Figuring out why I came here and started building this house. I forget very easily – I live in the moment – and I had to go back, through written words, to re-realize a lot of my driving forces.

Most of those written words weren’t my own. They were yours. Your dreams, hopes, goals, ambitions. I draw strength and inspiration from the people who dare to follow their hearts, who push through the hard times to make better ones, who try to manifest their desires, whether those desires parallel my own or not.

Don’t ever doubt your own importance, even to people you’ve never personally spoken with. The internet lets us connect, but even when we don’t connect one-on-one, you influence people. You inspire them.

You inspire me. And for that, I thank you. I’ll try to return the favor as best I can, and I won’t waste the hope grown by your words.

February 2nd has long been a Day of Fire for me – to melt down the old in order to forge the new. It’s almost here, and I think I’ll be ready for it, now that I’ve remembered all I have to recycle and cultivate.

Not amusement. Not entertainment. Not a brief little flicker of happiness.

I’m talking joy. That effusive, overwhelming feeling of delight and pleasure that makes it impossible not to smile. The kind of emotion that brings a little mist to your eyes because you are just that happy. Elation that lifts you up to the tips of your toes because you feel so light and free. Pure bliss.

I’ve heard it called passion before. But passion has a different flavor – thicker, redder, more driven and focused. Joy is liberated from any kind of ambition and sense of progress. Joy blows with the wind, gusts into you to fill you up until you’re flying, and can be exhaled in one breath if something – internal or external – takes your mind back to what some people call ‘reality’, where worries and stressors and problems dwell.

Personally, I’m not a fan of a ‘reality’ without joy. Mine includes it. Mine thrives on it.

On the long drive to work this morning, as I was waking up, I decided to eschew the thoughts of the stress that’s plagued me lately. I’ve run into a lot of unexpected issues at work; J is sick with H1N1; money is always a concern (especially after a summer of not working); and we’re probably going to be moving in a few weeks – if my job proves stable. I’ve had all of that and much more on my mind, but today, I chose not to dwell on it.

Instead, I fired up the ole cauldron and began simmering ideas.

I thought of Into Fang Wood. I thought of the upcoming NaNoWriMo novel, which is looking to be epic. I thought of the directions I want to take this blog, the people I want to reach out to and connect with, the kind of awesome geofiction resource I hope to create with Oh, The Inhumanity!. I thought of past creativity and future potential.

And I felt that joy bubbling up just beneath my collarbone, pulsing in my lungs.

Creating is my passion and my joy. What’s yours?